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Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

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Carrot Cake SliceObviously, I have not kept up with my blog since Hadley has come along.  I really enjoy it, but with Craig doing his med school rotations and trying to get everything together for his residency applications, he is staying quite busy.  Of course Craig is amazing and spends just about every moment he can with us, but med school is still med school.  I am still trying to work from home while I take care of Hadley, so that obviously does not leave a lot of spare time for blogging, hence my hiatus.

However, with the deliciousness of this cake, I have decided to force the time it takes to post this recipe.  It was that good.  Who knows, maybe I will get inspired from this post and start keeping up with this again. 🙂

Craig and I love having family and friends visit, and we have been truly blessed by many visits between living in Charleston and having the sweetest baby in the world.  Still, we decided we wanted Easter this year to be just us.  I was so excited for the family fun we would be having, until Hadley came down with a terrible cold that Friday, and the poor girl felt pretty cruddy all weekend.  Our weekend ended up being a Castle dvd marathon while we cleaned the condo and traded off holding our sweet, sick girl.  A bit of a bummer.

Despite this all, that Sunday was going to be Resurrection Sunday and Hadley’s first Easter; we were going to celebrate.  So, with my lowered revamped expectations of how our weekend would be, I was still determined of two things: 1. We would get a family picture. 2. I would make an Easter dinner and dessert.

With Hadley having a cold Plus the annoyance of such a windy day, there was no way were going to get a picture without a paci in Hadley's mouth.  That girl was such a trooper!

With Hadley having a cold plus the annoyance of such a windy day, there was no way were going to get a picture without a paci in Hadley’s mouth. That girl was such a trooper!

I really don’t remember what all was included in dinner (besides the ham that I made for the very first time), because the whole weekend was such a chaotic blur.  BUT, I do remember the dessert very well. Yum, yum!  I have always loved carrot cake, especially the cream cheese frosting, but I had put off making one since Craig and I got married, because I wasn’t sure how a dairy free cake would compare to the real thing, plus Craig didn’t remember what he thought of carrot cake when he is a kid.  There are few thing more frustrating in the realm of dairy free cooking/baking that taking the time to make something dairy free from scratch only to find out at the end that Craig would have really preferred a from-the-box pan of brownies.  But this was our first Easter Sunday with Hadley, and even though she obviously wouldn’t be having the carrot cake, something about it being her first Easter made me feel extra domestic and Southern Living-esque (same reason I made a ham that weekend for the very first time).

I am so glad I took the risk on this.  Craig loved the cake and the variety it added to his dairy free dessert options.  I was surprised at how easy it was to make dairy free.  And most of all, I was totally surprised at how non-dairy free it tasted, which is always the true sign of success in my world of dairy free cooking and baking.

This recipe is somewhat based off a recipe I found on allrecipes.com, but I made a good number of changes based on reviews and personal preference.

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable/canola oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 8oz can crushed pineapple (juice mostly drained from it)
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
    • I chopped these up itty bitty, because I wanted the flavor and just a tab of texture, but Craig isn’t a big fan of the intense texture that large nut pieces add to my baking.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • I used Earth Balance Vegan Butter Sticks, but Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine is another great dairy free option for baking.
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
    • I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese Imitation Cream Cheese.
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’/powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
    • Again, I chopped these up tiny.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9in round pans.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, pineapple, brown and white sugar, and vanilla extract. Separately, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Add dry ingredient mixture to wet ingredient mixture.  Stir in carrots.  Fold in chopped pecans.
  3. Pour into prepared pans.  Bake in preheated oven 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for ten minutes, and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla extract.  Stir in chopped pecans.  Stack the two cake layers with a coat of frosting in between, and then finish frosting the cake completely.

Carrot Cake

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Lemon-Zucchini Loaf with a Lemon Glaze

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Lemon-Zucchini Loaf with a Lemon Glaze

As August comes to a close, I can’t help but be over-the-top excited that my favorite season is just around the corner!  Cooler weather, beautiful leaves, anticipation for the upcoming holidays, football season, and autumn baking!  Plus, this autumn will be extra special because it will include the long-awaited birth of our sweet baby girl!

In fact, I love autumn so much that I sometimes make the mistake of wishing away the rest of the year.  I realized I was doing  that again last week when I spent a shameful amount of time looking up autumn recipes, holiday decorations, and pictures of pretty leaves.  Probably not the best life choice considering we have a baby due in less than a month, and her cradle is currently acting as a laundry basket for the clean clothes I “haven’t had time” to fold.  So, instead of deciding to make better use of my time by cleaning, I decided to “make better use of my time” by baking something that adequately celebrated summer before the season’s end.

I found this lemon-zucchini loaf recipe a few months ago, and I meant to make it on three different occasions.  Something always came up, though.  Well, I decided that I would not be ok with myself going into fall and baking apple this and pumpkin that without having given this a try first.  So this recipe gets to be my end-of-summer-baking-hurrah loaf.  The lemon glaze on top especially gives this a “fresh” spring and/or summer feel.  I still have some zucchini left, so I am already planning to make it again this weekend when my family comes in town for Labor Day and to celebrate my dad’s 50th birthday…along with the peach pie and chocolate cake my dad is requesting for the celebration. 😉

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Lemon-Zucchini Loaf with a Lemon Glaze

Adapted from: NancyCreative

Ingredients:

Loaf

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Juice of one lemon (or 2 Tbsp lemon juice)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
    • You don’t need to peel the zucchini before grating it.  I just washed it, cut of the ends, and grated it.

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Juice of one lemon (or 2 Tbsp lemon juice)

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat two eggs well, then add canola oil and sugar, and blend well.  Then blend in the buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Add in the grated zucchini and stir until it is evenly distributed.  Add in the dry ingredients and blend everything just until everything is mixed well, but do not over-blend.

Poor batter into a 9×5 loaf pan that has been greased and floured.  Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Removed from oven, and allow loaf to cool in the pan for a few minutes before moving it to a wire rack to finish cooling.  While bread is cooling, mix 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 Tbsp lemon juice.  Spoon the glaze over the loaf, and you are done!  🙂

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A Taste of Fall and Early Thanksgiving

I absolutely love living in Charleston.  It doesn’t get too crazy cold in the winter, we live right near the beach, we love our church, and there are always a ton of fun and exciting things to do here.  Aside from missing my family like crazy, Charleston is really an almost perfect place to live.

Almost.

The one thing Charleston is really missing…well, I guess the two things it is missing, but they go together…are fall weather and mountains.  Craig and I are outdoorsy people.  We love hiking together, we love the beauty of the mountains, and we especially love the fall.  During the fall, cooler temperatures are accompanied by autumn rainbows of leaves.  Red, orange, yellow, and every possible combination of those colors make a fall such an incredibly wonderful time of the year.  The cool weather means snuggling by the fire, and it also reminds you of the fast approaching holidays.  The colorful leaves offer a gentle reminder that time is passing and things are changing, but change can be a wonderful, exciting, and incredibly beautiful thing.

We don’t get that in Charleston.  Down here, leaves stay green well into the (relatively) “cooler” weather, and then they just turn brown, die, and fall of the trees in January.  No raking leaves to jump in a fun pile.  No beautiful leaves to add the perfect touch to a November hike.  Fall is Craig’s and my favorite season, and we really miss it!

Thankfully, we got a taste of fall this past weekend, and it was just what we needed!  Because Craig and I will be spending Thanksgiving with his family this year, we spent a long weekend in the North Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains with my family, celebrating an early Thanksgiving.  I hadn’t seen any of my family since they came to visit over Labor Day, so the fall weather, plus being up at a mountain cabin, plus having my family together was just fabulous!  We were right by a trout creek, too, so there was also a lot of fly fishing going on.  We had our traditional Thanksgiving meal together, filled with turkey, stuffing, cherry pie, cinnamon cake, jello salad, the best homemade cranberry sauce EVER, and more!

Don’t worry, some recipes from this weekend will soon follow!  For now, you can enjoy these snap shots of our early Thanksgiving celebration and the wonderful fall weather!

I hope you all enjoy your real Thanksgiving as much as my family enjoyed our pretend Thanksgiving!  Happy almost holiday season, everyone! 🙂

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pound Cake With Peanut Butter Glaze

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pound Cake With Peanut Butter Glaze

It’s study week!  Party time!…except not.

Study week is certainly not party time in the McCondo.  It’s boring slash stressful study-almost-nonstop time.  Nevertheless, I like to “celebrate” as many McKinney occasions as possible.  If it’s a happy occasion, celebrating with delicious food makes it even happier.  If it is a sad occasion, the celebration food makes it not quite as sad.  If it is a stressful occasion, celebrating makes it not quite as stressful…I am basically willing to use any occasion to justify making tasty food.

So Saturday night, to “celebrate” Craig’s first study week of the school year, I made a Study Week Cake, also known as chocolate chip peanut butter pound cake with peanut butter glaze.  If you’ve been reading my blog for any decent amount of time, you know that Craig and I are obsessed with anything that combines peanut butter and chocolate, so this obviously sounded AMAZING to us.  It was.  🙂

I do have to warn you though, this is a heavy, rich cake.  You will need a glass of milk or soy milk or water or a cup of coffee with this for sure.  Also, if you are a peanut butter chocolate person, like me, this is a dangerous cake to have sitting in your kitchen.  I now know from experience that this cake has absolutely no qualms about taunting you with its heavenly glaze and the chocolate chips dancing on top.

You have been warned.

Adapted From: Pixelated Crumb

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
    • Don’t use natural peanut butter unless it is the no-stir kind.
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
    • I used Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine
  • 3 cups granulated white sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
    • I used vanilla soy milk.
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup mini or regular-sized chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together peanut butter and butter.  Add sugar, and beat for an additional 5 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla, and continue mixing until well combined.  Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, beating just until it is well incorporated.  Stir in the chocolate chips.
  3. Scrape batter into a well-greased bundt pan, and bake at 325 for 1hr 20 – 1hr 35min, or until knife or skewer comes out clean.*
  4. Let the cake cool for about 20 minutes before flipping onto a platter or rack to let it cool completely.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, milk, peanut butter, vanilla, and salt.  Drizzle the glaze over the top of a cooled cake.  Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.

*Check the cake at 1hr.  If it is browning too quickly, gently lay foil over the top for the remainder of the cooking time.  Also, when you are trying to see if it is cooked all the way through, don’t just try sticking a toothpick or fork into the cake.  You want to use something that will really be able to reach all the way to the center (I just stuck my knife all the way to the bottom and then pulled it out) to check if the cake is done.  If it’s not done, let it bake longer!

This cake is fabulous!  I really loved the glaze…Yum Yum Yum!  I definitely plan to be making this cake again around the holidays…when I have more friends and family around to help me eat it!  It’s just too dangerous to be here alone with me!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pound Cake with Peanut Butter Glaze

Inside-Out Chocolate Bundt Cake

This is another recipe courtesy of my mother-in-law.  If you like chocolate, this is the recipe for you!  It doesn’t take long to make, and it’s almost impossible to mess up.  I made this cake over Labor Day weekend while my whole family was down here visiting.  Craig and my dad are both big chocolate people, so while my dad still requested the normal peach pie for his birthday celebration, the he was even more thrilled to find out I was also going to make this cake.  A great birthday celebration, indeed!

Recipe:

  • 1 box (4 1/2 oz) instant Jello pudding
  • 1 box (2 layer) Duncan Hines Devil Food Cake Mix (I’m sure other brands would probably work, as well…this one just happens to be Craig-friendly.)
  • 1 bag (12oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 3/4 cups milk (I used vanilla soy milk.)
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients except the chocolate chips.  Mix well, and then slowly stir in the chips.  Spoon batter into a well-greased and floured 12 cup (the standard size you would think of) bundt pan.  Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes.  It is done when the cake springs back when lightly touched.  Do not over bake.

The only other problem I have ever heard of with this cake was a friend of my mother-in-law’s who just could not get the cake to come out of the pan in one piece.  It was always stuck.  Before she would put the cake in the oven, she was tapping the pan on the counter to make sure there were no air bubbles, but after three plus times of baking the cake and it never working, she realized that tapping to pan on the counter to get rid of the air bubbles was sinking all of the chocolate chips to the bottom of the pan.  So don’t try to get the air bubbles out of your cake.  Let it be as free and bubbly as it would like so that it can come out of the pan as beautiful and delicious as you would like!

I enjoyed my slice of chocolate heaven with some powdered sugar sprinkled on top!

Cinnamon Roll Cake

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I’m not really sure why, but rainy days always seem to put this urge inside of me to bake.  I don’t mean like the “through eggs, oil, and brownie mix in a pan and stick it in the oven” type of baking.  I mean the “let’s make something from scratch” type of baking.

Well, I’d say that yesterday definitely counted as a rainy day.  While the intensity of the rain changed throughout the day from a drizzle to a steady rain to a storm back to a drizzle and so on, it was definitely raining in some form for the entire day.

This is a picture of the Market downtown that someone sent to our local news channel. I also watched a video of somebody wakeboarding down the street. Crazy!

So I definitely was in a baking mood yesterday, but there were a couple of problems.  The first was that I still had work yesterday…I’ve found that a downside to working from home is that you can’t claim bad weather and the commute to be reasons for not getting your work done.  😉  The second problem was that I was out of yeast, so even if I had time to bake some homemade bread or rolls, I was still missing an essential component.

My solution was to try out this recipe.  I adapted it from Cookin’ Up North, and I was so excited to try it out!  With the taste and smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls and the texture and density of a made-from-scratch cake, how could I possibly go wrong?  Well, I couldn’t.  It was absolutely delicious!

Recipe

Cake

  • 3 c. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
    • I used vanilla soy milk.
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted
    • I used a combination Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine and Blue Bonnet Light Margarine.

Topping

  • 1 c. butter, softened (My first thought was Wow, that’s a ton of butter! Then again, this is a cake, so I don’t know what I was expecting…)
    • Again, I used Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine and Blue Bonnet Light Margarine.
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Glaze

  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 5 Tbsp. milk
    • Again, I used vanilla soy milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions

Mix all of the cake ingredients together except for the butter.  Then, slowly stir in the melted butter.  Pour the batter into a greased 9x13in pan.  Mix all of the topping ingredients together until they are very well blended.  Drop the topping by small spoonfuls evening over the batter, then swirl it with a knife.  Bake at 350 for 28-34 minutes.  Mix the glaze ingredients together.  After you have completed the baking time, but while the cake is still warm, drizzle the gaze over the cake.

A piece of delicious cinnamon roll cake! Yum!

This cake gave me the satisfaction of baking something from scratch, and yet it was quite easy to make and didn’t take long at all.  It’s definitely something you could throw together at the last minute is you need to bring a dessert for something, because you will likely already have all the ingredients you need.  I also think it’d make a great dessert for a brunch event, like a bridal or baby shower or something.  Delicious!

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